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How Contractors Can Build and Better Their Client Relationships

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Jul 05,2016 @ 05:00 AM

How Contractors Can Build and Better Their Client Relationships

Ways Contractors Can Build Better Client RelationshipsThough going above and beyond with the project at hand is usually the No. 1 priority for contractors, creating and cultivating client relationships follows closely behind in position No. 2. Any business owner and manager knows that building and maintaining great relationships with clients — otherwise known as relationship marketing — is key to a company’s success. Many companies, however, do not employ a dedicated customer relationship manager (CRM). But that doesn’t mean relationship marketing should be pushed to the wayside. We’ve gathered four tips on how you can help cultivate positive relationships with clients right now:

Connecting the Dots

One CEO says her best tip is to be a connector. In other words, when meeting a potential new client, or even a current client, ask yourself what you can do for them. Aside from the job or project at hand, perhaps you’ve gleaned from the conversation that he or she could use a referral to a good painter, or even something as minor as a good place for lunch. Giving clients or potential clients access to your network can help them gain confidence in your advice. Always having an “I can help” attitude, even if it doesn’t directly benefit you, will leave a positive effect on people...and could result in more business or a referral one day.

Get Clear

Experts also agree that clear communication goes a long way in keeping clients happy. They say to be upfront from the very moment you meet with clients or potential clients so you can bid in a fair and accurate way. Also, be sure you are completely clear on client expectations and that they are clear on what you can deliver to ensure a united vision. Additionally, using layman’s terms with clients who may not have excessive construction experience can help them understand better and not feel awkward by asking for clarification.

Further, deciding from the start who the point of contact will be on both ends, as well as determining the preferred mode of communication — whether text, email or phone calls — can help avoid ambiguity.

Number One

Thanking remodeling clientsAnother best practice is to treat every client like your most important client. Since satisfied clients are more likely to refer you, it is wise to provide each and every client with your very best service, no matter if they are bringing you the largest payment or the smallest. Just like in life, you never know who people know, and who they may (or may not) refer you to. Not to mention, today’s startup could be tomorrow’s Fortune 500 Company. So provide service accordingly.

Tokens of Appreciation

While offering clients your own company swag — pens, T-shirts, etc. — is a nice way to share your appreciation and get your name out there, it is wise to consider doing more. Sometimes, even the smallest form of a “thank you” is deeply appreciated by clients. Don’t underestimate the power of something as small as a hand-written thank-you card. However, if you’d like to go above and beyond, an unexpected gift delivery at the end of the project or on a holiday can send a bigger message of thanks.

An unexpected delivery can brighten anyone’s day. Perhaps you know that your client is a wine enthusiast or enjoys a good microbrew. As such, a gift delivery with these items offers a personal touch. If you’re unsure of what to send, custom gift baskets full of luxury spa items, gourmet chocolates or sweet treats and cookies are always a safe bet. Beautifully designed and wrapped, FTD gift baskets offer a touch of class and will be something your client is sure to remember and appreciate.

 

Sheryl Coonan

 

Guest Blogger: Sheryl Coonan is a lifestyle, fashion and business writer from metro Detroit.

 

 

Topics: Business Growth, Differentiating your Business, Marketing, Marketing Ideas, Guest Blogs, Building Relationships, Marketing Considerations, Customer Relations

To Really Take Advantage of Design/Build Rethink What You know as Normal

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Fri, Jun 03,2016 @ 05:00 AM

Design/Build Coaching

 

A lot of remodelers have contacted me recently looking for help with Design/Build.  Unfortunately many think they are doing or claim to be doing Design/Build, but they are not.  I know this because I know what Design/Build is, how to market it, how to sell it and how to manage it.  I find it sad to see how many hours and dollars are lost and wasted by contractors trying to figure out how to do Design/Build.  Worse, many pretend to be Design/Builders and actually have no idea what they are missing out on through their ignorance.

I find too many contractors pretending to do Design/Build lack the skills and experience to do it right.   Unfortunately their lack of knowledge coupled with their decision and or stubbornness to figure things out on their own leads to them to repeat the same mistakes so many other remodelers made before them.

I suggest there is always more than one way to do things.  I also know that the many things you are concerned about changing were things that I found were holding back my company and our ability to attract the right clients and project types for Design/Build.  I too was hesitant and said no one would pay that much to design and estimate, and pay for it in full up-front.  I also said people would not give up bidding.   I also said they would never go for Design/Build if they could not have the plans unless they also contracted for the construction. 

 

I was wrong and I was really glad I found out I was wrong.

Evolving to Design/BuildYes, becoming a real Design/Builder will be an evolution of change, if you are willing and able to commit to making the changes. The changes will not be easy and will require getting out of your current comfort zone to gain new experiences and results.

In the beginning selling real Design/Build will be challenging.   If you do it right you will come to trust Design/Build and so will your clients.   Here is what one of my clients shared:

“Shawn McCadden is the best business mentor and coach I have ever met.  He has a special talent for getting right to the heart of an issue, helping you find the solution that is right for your situation and then helping you implement the solution and monitor it.  His communication skills enable him to relate to a wide variety of people in ways that make his message interesting, understandable and memorable.  I have called on Shawn many times to help me through situations and am always glad I did.”

Selling Design/BuildTrust is earned.   If you do Design/Build well with some clients they will come to trust you and will then let those they refer you to know you and your process can be trusted.

Just remember there are plenty of contractors already doing the things you are challenged to consider doing.  Once I discovered that fact I knew I could do it too.

Let me know if I can help

 

Topics: Business Management, Design/Build Process, Building Relationships, Opinions from Design/Builders, Creating Referrals

Building the Right Team: How to Work With the Architect, Subs & Designers

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Fri, Feb 13,2015 @ 06:00 AM

Building the Right Team: How to Work With the Architect, Subs & Designers

Working with an architectAs a contractor, you know that building a custom home or doing a major remodel is not a one-person job. You need to work with an architect, an interior designer, one or more sub-contractors and any number of laborers—and, of course, the homeowner. Getting everyone on the same page can be the difference between an amazing house and a patchwork disaster.

 

Who’s the Boss?

The buck stops with the owner. The one who is paying for the work is the top dog, even if it doesn't always feel that way. Hurricane-torn Florida has some of the strictest construction laws in the nation, so let’s use it as our model. A full construction team may consist of an architect or engineer, a building contractor and an interior designer. The contractor may hire subcontractors. All of these people are, in some ways, like employees of the owner.

At the top of the chain is the architect. Since he or she is the one who has taken the owner’s ideas and turned them into schematics, all significant changes need to go through him (or her). These changes are done via a written document called a change order. The use of a change order is important and often costs money, so get agreement from the owner and interior designer before you issue one.

 

The Social Aspect

Working with design professionalsIn a study about collaboration, students from the architecture, interior design and construction schools of Mississippi State University were blended into different collaborative groups, ranging from highly engaged to mainly separated. The findings showed that the groups with the most social interaction had the most creative outcomes, though not the fastest completion rates.

Bring your construction team and your interior designer together for coffee and make them talk. With construction, speed is not necessarily your friend. Some jobs take time to do them right. If your people cannot find the time to sit and understand the project, then they will not have the time to do the job correctly. For example, a designer working with a contractor on windows and lighting might meet at a Shade Store showroom to point out ideas as they discuss them. They do not need to become fast friends, but they do need to work together on a creative level.

 

The Subs

Working with sub contractorsMost contractors do not have a licensed person on their team who can handle all the components of a construction job. For roofing, foundations, plumbing and electrical, they will usually subcontract to a licensed professional and or expert. In many cases, the interior designer may be a subcontractor of the lead contractor, making him the designer’s de facto boss. Whichever way you structure the construction process, you have some legal issues to handle. Make sure to meet with and manage your subs since, at the end of the day, you are responsible for paying them.

 

Paul Reyes-Fournier

 

Guest Blogger: Paul Reyes-Fournier has served as the chief financial officer for social service organizations, churches and schools. He created his own marketing firm, RF Media. Paul holds a BS in physics and an MBA.

 

 

Topics: Team Building, Production Considerations, Guest Blogs, Building Relationships, Subcontractor Considerations, Working with Design Professionals

3 Ways Contractors Can Become a Trusted Customer Resource

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, May 06,2014 @ 06:00 AM

Ruth Ann Monti

 

Guest Blogger: Ruth Ann Monti is the founder of TimeStorm Communications, which provides original content, copywriting, social media and marketing services for entrepreneurs and small business. She lives with her son and two dogs in sunny Scottsdale, AZ.

 

3 Ways Contractors Can Become a Trusted Customer Resource

A recent survey by Planese found the home improvement and remodeling industry earned a customer service score of 4.5 out of 7 in 2013. Not bad, but it could be better. More worrying is our industry's score for meeting expectations, which is just 36 percent. Comparatively, banking scored 61 percent, which is pretty good for an industry that isn't exactly the most popular.

A little bit of work to understand what your customers or potential customers want and offering yourself as a good resource can help you improve your customer service outlook and give yourself a competitive advantage.


How contractors can become a trusted advisor

First, Understand Customer Expectations

Many customers turn to online resources to find out the things they should anticipate during their remodel; usually these sites warn about delays and unexpected problems during the remodel like unusual plumbing and wiring. Dust and noise are hard to control, but this is a great opportunity to exceed expectations by taking an extra step or two and providing a little what-to-expect education beforehand.

Exceeding customer expectations is a strategy entrepreneurs should embrace, whether they run an auto repair, medical practice or remodeling business. Richard Branson, found of Virgin Group, says this is why his business stands out from the competition. If you are about to bid on a project, he says, "deliberately move your customers' expectations up a few notches and consistently over-deliver on your promises"


Use Your Proposal to Provide Customer Education

Begin offering customer education right from the start in your written proposal or estimate. Here are a few ideas about what to discuss that demonstrates your knowledge and experience and can help you shine:

  • Green remodelingTimeframe. It's difficult to nail this down but if you're considering a project similar to ones you've tackled in the past, provide a sample schedule. Note items that can slow things down or build in time to address them. There's nothing wrong with over-delivering by completing a project ahead of schedule because you foresaw potential problems that did not materialize.
  • Access to Specialized Equipment. Let customers know you have access to equipment that isn't part of the standard remodel kit. Provide links to specialized tools like lifts for second-story projects or insulation removal and installationExplain why they will or might be needed.
  • Discuss materials options. Customers want energy-efficient and environmentally friendly materials. Explain the differences between standard drywall and plaster, for example, and the different grades of insulation. Tell them about green materials you've worked with.

 

Don't Be Shy: Advertise Your Work

Remodeling Magazine Remodeling magazine urges contractors to advertise and enlist past customers for testimonials. Start by sending thank you notes for trusting you with their remodel and ask if they would send a review you can post on your website.

Speaking of: don't shy away from online review sites. Register with Google, Yahoo, Yelp and Angie's List, which is highly recommended for its popularity with consumers. In addition, by registering with these sites, you can respond to reviews and ensure that the information out there is accurate and complete.

 


Topics: Sales Considerations, Differentiating your Business, Guest Blogs, Building Relationships, Customer Relations

Know Who You Are, Then Build a Contracting Business That Works For You

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, Feb 16,2014 @ 01:10 PM

Peter Schneider

 

 

Guest Blogger: Peter Schneider, Peter Schneider Builder Contracor, Inc. has 20+ years experience and knowledge of residential custom building managing each project hands-on. He's been featured in national trade magazines and local publications and he's served on the Board of Directors of the Fairfield County Home Builders Association.  Peter offered this guest blog topic after reading my blog article titled: "Are You Less Of A Contractor If You Sub Everything Out?" I think Peter's message is a valuable one for contractors to consider.

 

Contractors; Know Who You Are, Then Build a Contracting Business That Works For You

Subs vs employeesUpon a little reflection I’ve realized there are a lot of ways to organize a contracting business, none of which are the “gold standard” and all of which either purposely or inadvertently express the personality of the owner.  At your inner core are you a manager or a craftsman? Are you a little of both? Are you neither?  Generally, I’ve noticed successful people have figured out who they are and how they add value to the equation.  Then they’ve set up a business system to capitalize on their strengths.  

If you are good with your hands, and want to be left alone to do your work, you probably will be a good one-man show type of contractor who can keep busy working for a few General Contractors. I work with carpenters, tile guys and drywall tapers that operate like this – most of whom survived the 7 year long down-turn OK.

If you can teach others a trade like framing, painting, drywall, etc, you can assemble a crew that will make you a nice profit, but you will need someone to run the “business” end of things, at your direction, leaving you free to estimate and sell and manage production. Profitably managing direct employees is a job unto itself and in my opinion is only appropriate when you have a crew that specializes in one type of work.

Peter Schneider Builder Contractor CrewIf you are excited about putting a team of specialized professional craftsmen together to construct a series of varied job types where organization & management are key elements of production & profitability, you’re a good fit for a general contractor operation. A GC set up is generally best for larger jobs like a custom home, a larger addition, or a whole house remodel job. Sometimes smaller jobs that require a higher level of craftsmanship like a special faux finish on walls, or custom built in cabinetry, or precision stone work are best left to the specialist sub contractor.  Higher end bath remodels are also a good fit for a GC with a loyal team of trade contractors. You absolutely must develop a team that you work with regularly so you can be assured of consistent quality and integration between trades.

For me, I’ve noticed the comparatively greater value of leveraging my time providing work opportunities for, and coordinating the activity of other professionals. 

There are inescapable sales, marketing and overhead costs of running a business not directly associated with performing your revenue producing activity. A good GC-Sub relationship takes this into account, or at least I like to think it does in my case.

 

 

Topics: Guest Blogs, Building Relationships, Subcontractor Considerations, Opinions from Contractors, Business Planning, Sage Advice, Business Considerations

Contractors, Were You Being Thankful and Did You Giving Thanks Too?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Dec 03,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Contractors, Were You Being Thankful and Did You Giving Thanks Too?


Thanksgiving Thoughts for Contractors

How did you celebrate Thanksgiving this year?

I hope you did something to thank the world around you for what you have and should be thankful for!

Here's what I did

My wife, daughter and I volunteered for the day helping put together and deliver meals for those less fortunate than us.   I belong to the Hudson Fish and Game Club in Hudson NH.   Every Thanksgiving, the club, its members and lots of volunteers all work together to make this annual event a reality for the surrounding communities.   It sure feels good to be part of the efforts.  In past years we have also helped with the delivery of the meals.   Although some drop-offs are an eye opener about how tough things are for may people, it’s also a great feeling to drop by with a bag chock-full of Thanksgiving dinner, rolls, pie, fruits, gravy and whole bunch more of traditional Thanksgiving treats.  The giant smiles and even sometimes the joyful tears can make your day!

 

 

Getting Everything Ready For The Big Day

HFG Thankgiving Dinner

HFG Meal Delivery Bags
   

Hudson Fish and Game Turkey Dinner Hudson Fish and Game Thanksgiving Volunteer

 

 

Volunteers Help Fill Plates For Delivery
HFG Thanksgiving Food Line Filling Thanksgiving plates at Hudson Fish and Game

 

 Almost 1200 Meals Were Prepared and Delivered!
Thanksgiving Dinner from Hudson Fish and Game Hudson Fish and Game delivers Thanksgiving meals

 

Did You Give Thanks To Your Employees Too!

One important way to spread the Thanksgiving spirit is to thank your employees.  My daughter got the message below as a text message from her boss.   She got it Thanksgiving morning while we were on the way to the Fish and Game Club to volunteer for the day.


"Happy Thanks Giving Kate!!  Thank you for all of your hard work and dedication.  You are truly a wonderfully kind person Kate :)   Eat some great food today..  Salute!"


After she read it she let out a big "WOW" and couldn't wait to read it to my wife and I.   She was touched by her boss's message and even more proud to read it out loud to my wife and I.  It put a huge smile on her face and on mine as well!  

Her boss will get paid back in spades for that simple gesture!

 

I hope you had a great Thanksgiving!


Topics: Fun Stuff, Employee Relations, Building Relationships

Joining A Contractor Trade Association Should Be An Informed Decision

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Aug 22,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Nicole Allen of R2R Marketing

 

Guest Blogger:  Nicole Allen is the Social Media Manager at R2R Marketing where she is responsible for maintaining and executing a clearly defined social media strategy to increase brand equity and awareness for current clients.  She is also the group manager for “Home Improvement Industry Specialists” group on LinkedIn.   Nicole is an expert in Social Media Management and has a military background as an Aircrew Survival Equipmentman.

 

Joining A Contractor Trade Association Should Be An Informed Decision

Trade associations for contractors

 

 

There Are Many Reasons to Join a Professional Organization…and many questions you may want to ask before you join.  Here are some things to ponder.

 

 

Membership in a professional organization is an investment in your professional credibility.

  • There are many organizations out there that will help your credibility. However, there are a few out there that do not. Check them all out before you join no matter how cheap the dues are. Are their agendas in your best interest? Are the key members upstanding in their field and community? They are the face and voice of the association and if they are unprofessional or unethical in their choices, you will be seen the same.

 

It’s an investment in personal development, and growth.

  • Contractor training by trade associationsChoosing the right association should involve doing a little fact checking. Does the association promote and foster a learning environment or does it seek to push its own agendas on you? Does it offer you training materials that are relevant to your company? Does it offer you a place to network with your industry peers? What is the overall tone of the association? Above all, does it portray a professional appearance? If their agenda is not in-line with yours you may want to re-think your membership.

 

It’s a place to get and expand your knowledge

  • Membership is a way to stay connected to your professional peers who are going somewhere, and don’t mind sharing knowledge on the journey. The age old adage, “If you want to be successful, surround yourself with successful people” applies here. The association you join should promote professionalism, ethics and training to help you succeed. Many say this is what they do- make sure they actually do it.

 

As a professional association, they should work hard to help you succeed.

  • You should receive tools (including a high-quality member website) and training to help you grow. They should offer support as you meet professional challenges, and opportunities to develop your business.

 

Here is an example

Networking at trade association meetings

 

As a member of the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), for example, a contractor has access to all-inclusive member resources and tools through the AGC Legislative Action Center and receives member discounts on AGC products and services. Additionally, with a nationwide membership of more than 32,000 firms and a network of 96 chapters, AGC offers its members the opportunity to meet and build relationships with fellow professionals, owners and suppliers.

Can the new association you are checking into offer you something that is comparable? Even if they are charging you low or a no-fee membership, is it really worth it if they cannot help you succeed?

 

Last thoughts

Choosing a Construction Trade AssociationMembership in trade associations can not only benefit the employees of your company, but it can also project a positive image of your firm to your customers; if you choose your association wisely.  Membership in associations shows a business’ initiative, its engagement in a particular trade and its commitment to staying abreast of current developments in the market. It can also affect you negatively by conducting itself in an unprofessional manner and by throwing business and moral ethics out the window. Look closely at the way their key members hold themselves in a public forum and ask yourself one question- Is that the way you want yourself and your company to be seen?

 

Topics: Contractor Training, Trade Associations, Differentiating your Business, Guest Blogs, Building Relationships, Sage Advice

One Member’s Disappointing Experience With LinkedIn Group Moderation

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Tue, Aug 06,2013 @ 06:00 AM

Randal DeHart, co-founder of Business Consulting And Accounting

 

Guest Blogger: Randal DeHart, co-founder of Business Consulting And Accounting in Lynnwood Washington is the leading expert in outsourced construction bookkeeping and accounting services for small construction companies across the USA. His experience as a Contractor, Project Management Professional and Construction Accountant allow him to see the world as the contractor and the accountant sees it. This dual understanding sets him apart from other accountants. Visit http://www.fasteasyaccounting.com/ to learn more.

 

One Member’s Disappointing Experience With LinkedIn Group Moderation

LinkedIn is one of my favorite places for networking and getting to know people on a business and personal level. For the first few years I rarely participated in any of the discussions and used it mainly as an online CRM to keep track of some of the people with whom we have built business relationships.

LinkedIn Group Moderation Problems

Lately, I have become involved in LinkedIn discussion groups and have discovered another source of informative and stimulating conversations.  However, there are situations when it is best to leave a group as that is the most respectful and kind thing to do, which brings me the subject of this article.

LinkedIn Moderation of CommentsShawn McCadden recently started a discussion in a LinkedIn group titled Should You Participate In LinkedIn Discussions If They Are Moderated?” After reading all of the comments on this discussion I was surprised to learn some LinkedIn groups moderate all comments and only allow those which appear to be in agreement with the moderator. I understand some social media sites may need to control and censor comments but was surprised to find LinkedIn in that same category.

I wrote a comment and added it to Shawn’s discussion thanking him for bringing this issue to light and “posted” it, or so I thought. Subsequently I searched all of the other groups I was a member of in order to determine if any of my comments were ”pending” only to discover a few of them had put my comments in perpetual “pending“ status and left them there.

Most of the group discussions where I make comments everything is posted immediately. And all of the feedback has been positive including a health quantity of “Likes”.

Just to be thorough I checked the comment I thought was “posted” in Shawn’s discussion and found it was also in the “pending” section. I could only smile and wonder what had went wrong or if I had offended someone.

Why are LinkedIn Groups ModeratedI sent messages to all the moderators asking if I had offended anyone or violated any rules so I could make amends and changes in order to get in compliance. Only one person had the courtesy to respond and now all my comments on that group show up immediately.

After waiting a few days to allow time for the other moderators to respond I deleted all of my “pending” comments and left all of the groups except the one with the discussion Shawn initiated because there are some very worthwhile postings and comments on it. My “Like” button appears to work on the discussions in this group so I will continue reading and signaling agreement and support with “Like”.

Having built a network of business and personal relationships that number in the thousands and spans the globe I understand the importance social graces and especially the importance of showing respect and kindness to friends and strangers alike. It is also just as important for us not to tolerate disrespect and a lack of common courtesy.

It is astounding how many times a kind gesture or recognizing someone by responding to a letter, note or email has led to some very profitable business for me and/or someone else in my network.

LinkedIn EtiquetteOne of the keys to having a comfortable network that grows daily is that even though I may not agree with everyone on every subject I seek to understand another person’s point of view and find some common ground upon which we can agree and build a connection from there.

Like most power networkers I refer business back and forth without regard for what is in it for me because the Universe is always in balance and I have learned I cannot give more than I receive.

All comments and observations are always welcome.

Warm Regards,

Randal L. DeHart, PMP, QPA

Topics: Guest Blogs, Social Media for Contractors, Building Relationships

After Bad Experience Contractor Shares Thoughts With His Employees

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Thu, Jun 13,2013 @ 06:00 AM

After Bad Experience At His Own Home, Contractor Shares Thoughts With His Employees

Tim Piendel of GreatHouse Atlanta

 

Guest Blogger: Tim Piendel is the Principal of GreatHouse Atlanta, a full service design/build remodeling firm serving north metro Atlanta. Reach him at tim@greathouse-atl.com or 678.352.1035.

 

 

 

Back story to this guest blog

Contractor email to employeesTim is one of my coaching/mentoring clients.  We have been working together to help Tim grow his business and put a plan in place so he can slowly reduce his day to day involvement by empowering current and new employees as his business evolves.   Tim shared the email below with me after sending it to his employees.  In the email Tim shares a challenge he had with a painting contractor doing work at his own home as a way to help his employees understand how GreatHouse wants to build and protect its brand.  With his permission I am sharing it with you.

 

Here is Tim’s email text.


ALL GreatHouse Employees and Subcontractors:

I just wanted to share with you an experience I recently had with a contractor since I don't want this happening with our jobs. It is my intention to stay successfully in business and I want you to be part of that success.

Here's the story…

Just recently I had some painting work done on my home. There were two parts to the project, a preparation and a completion. The contractor came to my home and performed the first part of the project but did a poor job. I pointed it out and gave the person a chance to fix it but I was given excuses. I talked it over with my wife and we fixed part of the project ourselves and called the contractor back to fix the issue. They came back and saw what a corrected preparation should be like but offered no apologies, just excuses. They finished the preparation fine after that, but I, as a homeowner had to initiate it. 

The next step was to complete the project. This was an exterior project so it was expected they would not be here when the rain had made completing the project impractical. However, there was no call. Kind of obvious, but still, a courtesy call is always welcome. The next day came and was ideal for completing the work. However, the contractor was a no show and a no call. This is unacceptable. Now, with rain coming in again, the project was delayed another week. At this point, as a homeowner, I am frustrated, mad, and have lost confidence in the contractor. This all could have been remedied with a simple communication. 

Lessons learned…

1. NO MATTER WHAT THE JOB, DO IT RIGHT! Shoddy workmanship always cost you more in the long run. Return trips always cost more in dollars and confidence.

2. DON'T MAKE EXCUSES. APOLOGIZE AND MOVE ON! A customer does not want to hear excuses; they just want honesty and closure. Besides, you'll dig yourself a deeper hole.

3. YOU CANNOT OVER COMMUNICATE!!!!!! Call, text, email…whatever is appropriate, but do so promptly and often.

4. AGAIN, YOU CANNOT OVER COMMUNICATE!!!!! When you don’t call to say where you are and they are expecting you, they are just sitting there boiling and waiting to pounce on you and make your job harder and unpleasant.

You may think that your job is only to complete your service or product but that is only part of it. We are PRIMARILY in the customer service business. We have fabulous clients! By the nature of our business, we are invited into people’s homes and we must respect their rules and timing. We must earn and keep their trust. They must have CONFIDENCE that we will complete the project correctly, on time and on budget. That's what we do.

Thank you for your time. As always, feel free to contact me with any question or comments. I want all of us to be successful. I am willing to help anyone that needs help.

'We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.' - Aristotle

 

Thanks,

Tim Piendel

 

GreatHouse Atlanta wr


Topics: Team Building, Differentiating your Business, Production Considerations, Mentoring/Coaching, Guest Blogs, Building Relationships, Marketing Considerations, Culture, Customer Relations, Sage Advice

Contractors Are You Sure You Are Working With The Right Vendors?

Posted by Shawn McCadden on Sun, May 19,2013 @ 11:02 AM

The Marketplace is Improving; Are You Sure You Are Working With The Right Vendors?

Building product supply and demand

The marketplace seems to be picking up for contractors.  Many are reporting increased leads and sales.  With increased demand for the products contractors need to build their projects we will definitely see supply and demand challenges with local lumberyards, the big boxes and specialty product vendors.  This supply and demand challenge is one of the reasons many in the construction industry are predicting as much as a 25% increase in cost on many building products.  Although contractors need to be aware of these increases as they price their projects, I suggest they also need to make sure the vendors and suppliers they purchase their materials and products from will be prepared for the increased demand.

If you are a contractor who has been buying on price from vendors who have been selling on low price to get your business, you might want to think twice.   If that vendor has a good business, low or no debt and is using efficient business systems and technology to keep their costs low, you may be OK.  But if your vendor has very high debt, has cut back on staffing, equipment and service, just so they could sell at low prices, their business may not be prepared for a surge in sales as the economy improves.


Choosing and keeping the right building product dealers for your business and your customers

Here are some things to think about regarding the vendors you are currently using.  This same list can also help you decide which vendor or vendors you should work with going forward:

    • Many lumberyards and specialty dealers are short staffed.   To save money and to stay in business many of these businesses have reduced staff during the recession and often times the people they let go were the higher paid employees.   If this is a tactic any of your suppliers used they may have let go many of their most knowledgeable staff.   The remaining staff, often less skilled and far less knowledgeable about building products, construction and contractors, will be challenged to serve contractors as the number of contractors doing work and buying materials picks up.
    • Lumber supply and demandBuilding product suppliers who have high debt may not be able to finance the cost of increasing their inventories to keep up with the predicted supply and demand challenges as the economy improves.   If this happens at your supplier you may find that many products, even common commodities like framing lumber, will be out of stock.  Imagine going to the lumberyard first thing in the morning to get the materials you need to frame a deck or reframe that kitchen, only to find out you can’t get what you need.  To keep working that day you might have to pay for longer lengths than you need, or might even have to drive to a different supplier in the hopes that they will have what you need so you can work that day.  Remember, if you lose two hours chasing materials, in reality you also lost two hours of productive time on the job.   That would mean you lost a total of four hours you could have billed your client for if the materials were already at the jobsite.
    • Choosing building product vendorsLumber and building materials dealers who cut back on staff may also be challenged to help you sell to your customers.   If you had a customer who wanted to see the door, cabinets or windows you recommend, will you be able to send them down to your local supplier to see the products they are looking for?  What is the condition of the showroom?  Is there going to be anyone there to make and take the time to meet with and help your customer?   Will the person working at that dealer have the sales skills, product knowledge and knowledge about you and your business to help you make the sale?

 

The risks of low price

Selling on low price typically puts any business on a path to failure.  Sure, it may seem to help things at first when money gets tight.  However, unless they can ramp up their businesses, and do so before the market place improves, they will be forced to play a game of keep up and catch up as their customers’ needs and demands for products and service increases.   Working with a low price vendor might seem attractive, but can you be confident they will have what you need when you needed it?   If they require a deposit on special order items, are you confident they will still be in business by the time you expect delivery of what you ordered?   What will your customers think of you and your business if their project start date gets delayed and or the completion date gets extended because you can’t get what you need from your vendors to keep their project and your business on schedule?


Summary

Low price LBM dealers

 

Choosing the wrong vendors by saving a few bucks on materials may cost you and your construction business lots of wasted time, money and the valuable referrals your business has enjoyed from what used to be happy customers.  I highly recommend you choose your vendors wisely!



Topics: New Business Realities, Working with Vendors, LBM Related Topics, LBM Dealer Topics, Business Growth, Production Considerations, Building Relationships, Customer Relations, Keeping More Money, Sage Advice, Shawn's Predictions